In the first game of Thursday's softball doubleheader, UC San Diego needed four innings to bring home an insurance run; in the second, the Tritons were up 7-0 by the time two innings had elapsed.
Both games resulted in home losses for Cal State Bakersfield, 3-0 and 8-1, as the Roadrunners dropped their first two Big West Conference contests of the Dan Sperl era and fell to 5-20 on the season.
CSUB was let down by a poor defensive showing. UCSD stole seven bases in the first game, the highest single-game total the Roadrunners have allowed in their Division I era, and in the second matchup the Tritons used a string of early fielding miscues to build their advantage.
"They like to run, and they like to push the tempo, and they like to take the game to the other team, and we just need to do a better job of playing with confidence on that side of the ball," said Sperl, CSUB's first-year head coach.
The Roadrunners will have a chance at redemption in the third game of the series Friday at noon.
"We've proven we can play with this team, we just have to play with confidence and play with our focus and trust, and we'll be OK," Sperl said.
UCSD 3, CSUB 0
CSUB got seven runners into scoring position but could bring none of them home.
"I thought we did a good job with our at-bats in those situations, honestly," Sperl said. "We hit some hard ground balls, but we hit them right at the infielders. Their pitchers do a good job keeping the ball low in the strike zone, so they get those ground balls when they need them."
Starter Gabby Williams and reliever Kaia Simpson combined for a 3-0 Tritons shutout, as UCSD recorded several key strikeouts and reaped the rewards of the Roadrunners' bad batting luck.
"You have to stick with the good approach," Sperl said, "and know that the law of averages will work in our favor and those balls will get through in the future."
In the circle, Brianna Sanchez continued her strong start to the season for the Roadrunners, stranding 11 UCSD runners and allowing just two earned runs across seven innings. She worked her way out of numerous jams, exacerbated by the repeated stolen bases.
"Bri's really coming into her own, and she's really becoming that consistent presence for us," Sperl said. "We know what we're gonna get when we put her out there on the mound."
But despite Sanchez's showing, the Roadrunners saw their hopes of a comeback drift farther and farther away, as the Tritons tacked on a Bobbi Aguirre bases-loaded sacrifice fly and Marissa Hassis RBI single in the later innings.
They had taken their 1-0 lead in the second after Hassis, who reached on a fielding error, came around to score on a Hailey Mulligan single to right field.
That margin persisted for most of the game, despite several close calls for the Roadrunners. Shaylene Fuimaono (1-for-2, two walks) and Ciara Jensen (2-for-2 with a double and a walk) reached base three times apiece.
Jensen made it to second base with one out two separate times. In the fourth inning, Jensen and Maya Molina-Villareal singled back-to-back, but Williams struck out Jordan Head and got Kaia Johnson to line out with a full count to end the threat. After Jensen's double in the sixth inning, Simpson induced groundouts from Molina-Villareal and pinch hitter Alexis Ortega.
Jay Reeves also made it to third base as a pinch runner with two outs in the third inning, stealing second and advancing on a throwing error, but Samantha Martinez struck out swinging.
Both teams maintained offensive pressure throughout, but the Tritons, who got their eight hits from eight different players, were more consistent.
UCSD 8, CSUB 1
The game got off to an inauspicious start with a Lauren Randle throwing error on a Morgan Eng bunt. Bobbi Aguirre immediately brought Eng home with a single, and UCSD jumped on starter Kirsten Martinez for eight runs in the first three innings.
The Roadrunners staved off what could have been a 14th run-rule loss of the year when Jensen doubled down the right-field line to score Maya Williams, but they managed just three total hits off Triton starter Jada Cecil and lost 8-1.
Aguirre added a third-inning RBI double and finished 2-for-4 on the day, and Sophia Real and Lily Hermosillo matched her with two RBIs each, theirs coming on one hit apiece. Hassis and pinch hitter Deena Pederson both tallied two more hits as UCSD totaled 10, although just three of the Tritons' eight runs were earned.
As 31st-year UCSD coach Patti Gerckens rotated through a series of pinch hitters and defensive replacements, the Roadrunners outscored the Tritons 1-0 over the final four frames.
"Really pleased with how the team hung in there and responded today," Sperl said.
Williams reached second base twice thanks to a pair of stolen bases. Cecil induced three straight outs the first time around, but Jensen brought Williams home in the fourth inning.
Besides Jensen and Williams, Randle provided CSUB's only other hit with an infield single in the fifth inning.